Chapter 24: On practising

Comment/Interpretation:

De Brea ends his work by explaining how to practise and how to behave. Hits should be indicated without the need to land them. Fencing should be conducted in silence as much as possible and one should always get the best fencing masters possible.

Translation:

On practising

There are three types of activities: simple, compound and linked.

Simple Practise Exercise

Before starting this exercise, the fencers need to choose their measure of distance. Each fencer then assumes the second stance and faces each other along the line of the diameter. Once fencer will be offering enough of a target area, whether on an inside or outside line. The attacking fencer will have his blade in light opposition to the defending fencer’s blade. The attacking fencer should then disengage and pass the point of his foil under his opponent’s hilt. This will free the sword and the fencer should then thrust at whichever target area is most conveniently exposed. As the thrusts, he should stretch out with his right arm and also with his left leg. He should lower his left hand so that it touches his left-hand side. This can be seen in figure seven of plate eighteen.

Fig 7 Plate 18

The defending fencer should only move his left foot backwards when he is attacked so that it is easier to parry. This movement should be as small as possible and just enough to allow the defending fencer to practice the defensive techniques that have been taught. If the defending fencer has managed to parry, then the attacking fencer should let his foil move to whichever side it has been pushed by the parry. He should hold the foil lightly but make sure that it does not fall. The defending fencer should end the exercise in the position shown in figure six of plate eighteen.

Fig 6 Plate 18

Compound Practise Exercise

This is a tougher and more explosive exercise as it allows the attacking fencer to take advantage of the first, second or third type of feints. When the defending fencer parries, the attacking fencer should recover and then attack again immediately, only pausing enough to position himself correctly for the next attack. The defending fencer should wait and defend himself without riposting. This will give the attacking fencer the opportunity to improve through practice.

Linked Practise Exercise – also called the bell exercise.

This exercise allows the defending fencer to riposte. The riposte, however should wait until the attacking fencer has recovered and can defend himself.

This is a completely voluntary exercise, as are all the others, and we do these to help the fencer acquire strength and speed when attacking and defending.

To perform this exercise, both fencers will to stand upright with left and right feet touching. They will hold their foil as if they were about to carry out a diagonal backhand attack. The movements should be carried out at the same time and have the aim of helping each . At the end, the fencers will each take a reverse step and perform a salute as described in Chapter XVIII and shown in image 4 of plate eighteen.

Fig 4 Plate 18

If the fencer who has just defended wishes now to attack, he can do so following the same approach. As both fencers are facing each other along the line of diameter and stay within measure, I call this way of practising, the exercise of the wall.

A Cautionary Note

Every person needs to show his own ability without rushing into an action that would injure someone, which should be avoided. If, whilst practising, one of the fencers should be in a position to land a hit on the opposing fencer, then he should indicate the hit but not actually make contact. Whilst weapons are being used, silence should be kept as much as possible.

If a fencer should feel it necessary to ask for assistance with one or another move, then he should only use the best possible teachers. He should not resort to vainglorious and inferior teachers. There is no glory in defeating opponents such as these and, if they are occasionally victorious, it is an insult to both the skill of arms and the fencer.

I have tried to limit myself as much as possible in the images and plates to show only the easiest and most practical moves and techniques. It is not possible to illustrate all the techniques and positions that are needed to master the Art and which are described in this manual. It is important, however to read the explanation given for each one and follow the instructions carefully.

Fencing is a science of two parts as can be clearly seen in this document. The first part is conceptual and the second part is practical. The conceptual part concerns the power of the mind and soul. The practical part is concerned with the physical operation of the body. Any person, who wishes to be successful will need to have knowledge, disposition and be willing to practice. These three powerful elements will help him achieve mastery and be in a position to use this in the service of God, his king and country.

Original Text:

CAPITULO XXIV.
Exercicio de muralla.
Este tiene tres especies simple, compuesto y ligado. Trímero simple. Antes de dar principio á este exercicio, se ha de elegir su medio de proporción, y puestos los dos exercitantes en su segunda planta, ocupando la línea del diámetro, el uno esperando y ofreciendo un suficiente punto, sea por su parte adentro ó de afuera, y el que haya de acometer con la general flaqueza baxo de la total fuerza contraria, este pasará la punta de su florete por baxo de laguarnición del de su contrario, y la librará y encaminará á que execúte en el punto, que le ofrezca su opuesto descubierto, procurando á la execucion levantar la mano, y estirar la pierna izquierda y brazo derecho,y en el tiempo, basar la mano y brazo izquierdo, uniéndole á su costado, como lo manifiesta la figura señalada con el núm. 7 de la precedente estampa. Quando su contrario le haya expelido. el arma con el quite, permanecerá un poquito volviendo la mano, y dexando ir el florete al lado que se le haya desviado, sin que se le desprenda ni cayga, y el que espera disminuirá solo con el izquierdo en el tiempo que le acometen para hacer el desvio con mas libertad; pero que sea muy poca cantidad, aplicando las defensas que se tienen advertidas en las reglas de esperar según mejor le venga, y permaneciendo según la figura señalada con el núm. 6. los dos combatientes ocupando la línea del diámetro firmes, y sin excederse de su medio de proporción. Ha. de procurar cada uno demostrar su habilidad sin propasarse á ninguna acción, que pueda resultar en perjuicio de alguno; antes bien se han de evitar. Y si en virtud del rigor de la batalla se proporcionase alguna execucion, se ha de procurjir marcarla, pero no executarla; guardando todo el silencio posible ínterin estén demostrando con las armas en la mano. , Igualmente se previene, que en caso de solicitar ó admitir la definición de alguna proposición, que $ea con los mas excelentes profesores, np COA los inferiores presumidos, que con estos no se saca gloria de vencerlos; y sí acaso ellos vencen, afrentan á la habilidad y ,al sugeto. Me he ceñido lo posible e|i las láminas,^ poniendo las demostraciones, mas pfacticabl,«s y fáciles, por. ser imposible representar t^das» las prop$>Sr^¿o»eí .19 posturas¡qi^e pide el arte, relácionadafi en este pi;«ntu0EÍo: atiéndase4lá explicación de cada una de ^Üas pasa, su execucion. Bien claramíií!«ie se manifiesta en este escrito ser esta una ciencia qije copsta <ip d.o$ paites,, la una especulativa, y la otra piieficAí la espe<;u]at¡va toca án la^ potencia» del alma, y la práctica á las operaciones del cuerpo. El
qi^ la haya de conseguir aecesiía tener entsndimimiento,
dispojsiciw y aplicacipn: con estas tyes prendas tan poderos^
s^ duda se conseguirá el fin, par» empkarle en el^
servicio de Pjos, de su ^ey y de su Pauia.

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